Elections coverage: Hall makes history at Fort Berthold
History made at Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota
NEW TOWN, N.D. - Tex Hall, the popular chairman and president of the National Congress of American Indians made history on Nov. 5 with an unprecedented victory to serve a second term as tribal chairman.
The Three Affiliated Tribes has never had a chairman serve two consecutive terms in office.
Hall, as NCAI president, said some of the criticism to his candidacy was that he spent large amounts of time with the national organization and working on national issues.
"We countered that opposition," Hall said. "We have an agenda at home that includes health care, education and home ownership. We are focused on economic development. We built a bridge, have two 8A companies and are working on long term contracts. What's good for Fort Berthold is good for the nation. I focused on Jobs and trust responsibility."
He added that it was a tough race, but in the end people wanted to move forward in a progressive manner.
"Now we have to focus on uniting our people and also focus on the people's agenda," Hall said. "This was a history setting election and I'm so proud of our people that for the first time ever, the continuity of an agenda was important. In the past we would go in different directions; two steps forward and three back. This time the chairman has accomplished some things and kept continuity. I have a mandate to improve health care, housing and jobs, jobs, jobs."
The next four years will find Hall working to lead the move to acquire a new health clinic for Fort Berthold that will operate around the clock. He said the current health clinic is open from eight to five.
"The isolation factor is huge," he said. "We need to focus on Diabetes and heart disease and on getting a facility with telemedicine."
Another issue that is critical to the Three Affiliated Tribes is higher education. Hall said he will attempt to up the contribution for students to $7,000, which is double what it is now. Many students fail to complete a four-year program, because of the lack of funds, he said.
Hall will serve for four more years.
Another primary on Pine Ridge
A very high voter turnout on the Pine Ridge Reservation helped elect a U.S. senator, and brought actor and activist Russell Means closer to the presidency of the Oglala Lakota Nation.
Most voters first cast their ballots on the tribal elections and moved over to cast an additional ballot in the statewide races to put Sen. Tim Johnson in the victory column. Late into the night when the Shannon County ballots were still mostly not reported, Rep. John Thune held a slight lead. When the Shannon County results were recorded Johnson took the final lead and held it.
The first Pine Ridge primary election was nullified on Nov. 1 because of concern over unlocked ballot boxes and misplaced voter registration sheets. The presidential office of the Oglala Sioux Tribe may have a new face if the first two primaries are any indication. Means once again gathered the most votes with President John Yellow Bird Steele repeating his second place finish.
The general election will be held Nov. 19.
Means ran on a platform calling for change. He said that for the past two elections people have asked for change, but little had happened.
In 1973 Means, an active participant in the American Indian movement, was involved in the armed takeover at Wounded Knee, site of the 1890 massacre of more than 300 Lakota men, women and children. Now, nearly 30 years later he is in a position to affect, this time through the electoral process.
"On the reservations since WWII we have the statistics of deprivation that remain constant and only gets worse," Means said. "Oglala people have spoken clearly that the want constitutional change, economic change; therefore, my platform is to offer that change. The reason there is no change is because of the massive American apartheid policy of this country. Forced communism through reservations on the land is the prime example. I'm going to federal court with a litany of these violations and end apartheid in America."
Steele was not available for comment.
Many of the voters on Pine Ridge were young in 1973 and Means said the reason for the large turnout for him was that they saw hope for the future. He added that most of the other people running for tribal council were also advocating change that will bring hope to the young and the elderly alike.
"Everyone that has run in this election has run on change and economic development as well as health issues -- everything Oglalas face," Means said. "The operative word is change for the better. Yes, tribal council will listen to a leader, and John Steele is not a leader as evidenced by his four terms in office where nothing has changed."
Means said the first thing he will push for is what everyone ignores in the area of economic development ? health care.
"My plan is to improve the health of the people and the delivery of health services as my number one priority and simultaneously impose accountability and efficiency in all tribal programs," he said.
"(Steele) chairs and directs an outlaw government and being an outlaw permeates the judiciary on the reservation and all government officials. It is sad there are no penalties for violating the laws, no penalties whatsoever," Means said.
Challengers after the first primary in September claimed Means violated election laws that prevent a convicted felon from serving as an elected official. Means was convicted of a felony in 1975 for rioting and obstruction of justice in Sioux Falls, S.D. The election board of appeals imposed South Dakota law that allows for a felon who has completed the sentencing guidelines to run for office. He was also accused of not fulfilling the residency requirement. Means has a home in New Mexico and property near Porcupine on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
A new person in the top chair for Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
A new chairman will lead the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe for the next four years after Chairman Gregg Bourland failed in his bid for re-election in the primary election.
Perennial chairman candidate and former chairman, Wayne Ducheneaux, tribal housing director, missed another attempt at the top seat by more than 400 votes.
Harold Frazier, tribal vice chairman, will take over the top position as chairman. Frazier won the election with 1,255 votes to 813 for Ducheneaux.
He also serves as a vice president for the National Congress of American Indians. Hall, NCAI president, said Frazier was easy to work with and always listened and then made decisions.
Frazier was not available for comment.
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe not only replaced its long-time chairman, but also changed the look of the top level of the administration. Collette LeBeau Iron Hawk replaces Bernice White Eagle as tribal secretary and Rhea E. LeCompte-Smith defeated incumbent Benita Clark as treasurer. The tribal vice chairman is selected from within the tribal council.
Bourland served as chairman for 12 years. He challenged the primary election and asked for a recount of certain districts that he alleged would discover fraud. The tribal election board did not find enough evidence to warrant a re-election in any district. Bourland, not wanting to file legal action against the tribe, conceded the election.